Venice Commission: Poland surveillance powers reach too far News
Venice Commission: Poland surveillance powers reach too far

[JURIST] In an opinion issued on Friday, the Venice Commission announced that it believes Poland’s current surveillance powers are too broad [press release] and need to be checked. The opinion focuses on sections 19 and 20c of the Police Act [text, PDF], dealing with “classical” surveillance and the collection of metadata respectively. The Commission believes that certain metadata, such as web-logs, are so extremely sensitive that judicial authorization should be required to obtain them. For other, less sensitive metadata, the commission suggested creating a independent oversight body to monitor the specific metadata operations, as opposed to the current, inefficient “generalized reporting” which is required every six months. The Commission also called for the prevention of surveillance violating lawyer-client communications, limiting the duration of metadata monitoring, and requiring police to keep formal records so as to aid in the future monitoring operations.

Surveillance and data collection have been a worldwide topic of discussion, particularly after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret [JURIST report] US National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013. Last month a UN rights groups criticized [JURIST report] the Investigatory Powers Bill, stating it could threaten freedom of expression and association. In December China passed a new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report] that requires technology companies to provide information to the government obtained from their products and make information systems “secure and controllable.” In October the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied [JURIST report] a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union to halt the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA. The court ruled that Congress intended for the agency to continue its data collection over the transition period, and the new legislation was to take effect November 29. In June the French Parliament adopted [JURIST report] a new surveillance bill that would give French intelligence serves the authority to monitor Internet use metadata. In February the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled [JURIST report] that the UK’s mass surveillance of citizens’ Internet use violates human rights law. In July 2014 civil liberties groups sued [JURIST report] the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, alleging that the agency accesses data from undersea cables in violation of the rights to private life and freedom of expression.